My 5 year old daughter has a runny nose and congestion. It’s just that time of year. Lucky for me she remembered to remind me that she needed her medicine tonight as I was tucking her into bed. She’s moved up in the world from the chalky chewable’s (Have you ever tried one? They taste nothing like grapes or cherries), and on to the more sophisticated swallow-whole pills. Needless to say, this is a very big deal for a five year old.
As she gulped down the medicine and handed back her glass of water to me she made the following observation: ‘Daddy, I’m a real good swallower.’ I replied with a smile that she is indeed a ‘brave, big girl’ as she swallowed her med’s.
On my way down the stairs it dawned on me that this is the kind of stuff I treasured as a kid. It was never the big things, those moments as an adult I see as monumental – like grades in school, trophies in sports, or productions in front of crowds. Those achievements were good, but as a kid I remember them being very fleeting. For the younger me, it was the small stuff that made me feel so big.
I remember as a 7 year old being able to tell the time of day within ten minutes by looking at the position of the sun. As an adult I think, ‘Great kid, but just look at your watch (or phone nowadays).’ But as a kid? This was huge! It was like being part-MacGyver and part-Indiana Jones. For some reason, being able to tell the time by looking at the sun was what mattered to me.
One of my favorite words of wisdom for parents is to affirm your child’s assets. This is the stuff they’re born with or that they just naturally grow into; like big brown eyes, fast legs, jumping from couch to floor, a knack for art, an ear for music, an uncanny ability to swallow medicine, or dance moves not yet invented.
When you’re around a kid -be they your child, nephew, cousin, niece, student, or anyone else under the age of 10- affirm the small stuff, which is often what a child uses to understand their identity. My daughter noticed tonight that she’s a good swallower of ‘big person’ medicine, which gave me the opportunity to affirm her bravery – an important characteristic of who she is.
While I, for instance, am always on time.